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Media Watch 2004

13 February 2004
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 13 February 2004.
Human Rights situation in north 'most disturbing' says CoE Commissioner
"The Commissioner is also strongly critical of the situation and living conditions of the 'enclaved' Greek Cypriots in the north..."

THE human rights situation in the Turkish occupied north of the island "remains most disturbing" the Human Rights Commissioner of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Alvaro Gil-Robles, said in a report released yesterday.

The situation in the government-controlled part of Cyprus is generally satisfactory but problems do exist and persist, he said, but went on to praise the government "for making an accurate and telling appraisal of these problems and of taking adequate steps to solve them."

He said problems in the government-controlled area covered delays in the administration of justice, the prison situation, police conduct, the status of foreigners and the treatment of persons suffering from mental disorder.

"The Cyprus Courts and the Ombudsman institution conduct their activities with genuine care to respect everyone's human rights. I hope that the present report and the recommendations therein will be helpful to them," he said.

Dealing with the north, he spoke "of an alarming situation in respect of the exercise of freedom of expression.''

"Opposition journalists are the target of intimidating practices which take various forms,'' while "several journalists and opposition members have complained of the lack of effective judicial protection from the oppressive and violent acts directed at journalists and protesters. According to them the courts of the TRNC are not independent but placed under the control if Turkey.''

Gil-Robles also expressed concern over the trial of civilians before (Turkish) military courts, while people complained to him about "the conditions of detention being extremely harsh, which aggravate the practice of intimidation."

The Commissioner is also strongly critical of the situation and living conditions of the 'enclaved' Greek Cypriots in the north.

He says: "In conclusion and without presuming to give an exhaustive description of the situation, I consider the exercise of certain political freedoms to be seriously impeded in the north of the island. The partial opening of the 'Green Line' has had little impact on the matter. It has, nonetheless facilitated contacts for journalists and Turkish Cypriot political players with Greek Cypriot counterparts. To that extent, it helps create a certain mood of trust.""